A Tiffany Necklace That Transcends Time

The diamonds perched atop Elsa Peretti’s fluid gold mesh collar, which the house recently reimagined, resemble droplets of dew.

Article by Lindsay Talbot

Peretti’s 18-karat yellow-gold mesh collar with 66 diamonds, available at Tiffany & Co. Price on request, (800) 843-3269. (Anthony Cotsifas)

“I have the feeling of having to prove I exist… through houses and objects,” the jewellery designer Elsa Peretti once said. “I have to crystallise a form.” Peretti’s career grew out of her chance travels as a model in the late ’60s and early ’70s, when she was a muse to Helmut Newton and Halston. After stumbling upon a very tiny flower vase made of sterling silver at a flea market, which she wanted to wear as a necklace, she began sketching ideas with a silversmith in Spain. Her early creations were instinctive and macabre, inspired by animal skulls, scorpions and even X-rays of her own skeleton.

In 1974, she joined Tiffany & Co. as a designer, where her sinuous and sculptural pieces — such as the BeanDiamonds by the Yard and the Open Heart — quickly became signatures of the 1837-founded American jewelry house. That same year, Peretti traveled throughout Jaipur, India, and the city’s glittering light inspired her to begin working with mesh. Halston debuted a gold mesh bra and scarf designed by Peretti for Tiffany in his fall 1975 runway collection, which she produced on old machinery that had been used to make handbags in fine metal netting and chain mail in the early 20th century. The mesh designs were a hit: “Tiffany was swamped with calls from people dying to get a gold bra,” Peretti recalled.

A 1977 advertisement for Tiffany & Co.’s 20-karat gold mesh scarf, part of the designer Elsa Peretti’s mesh jewelry collection, which debuted on the fashion designer Halston’s fall 1975 runway. (Twenty-karat-gold Elsa Peretti mesh scarf, 1977, courtesy of Tiffany & Co.)
A 1977 advertisement for Tiffany & Co.’s 20-karat gold mesh scarf, part of the designer Elsa Peretti’s mesh jewelry collection, which debuted on the fashion designer Halston’s fall 1975 runway. (Twenty-karat-gold Elsa Peretti mesh scarf, 1977, courtesy of Tiffany & Co.)

Throughout the years, she expanded her mesh collection, which has included chain-mail earrings, woven sterling-silver evening bags and, most memorably, her malleable gold mesh collar, which originally appeared in 1997. Free-form and fluid, it contours like fabric around the neck, with diamonds that resemble droplets of dew. The brand’s 2020 iteration, made of yellow gold, is dotted with 66 hand-set diamonds, totaling 3.72 carats.

The design remains largely unchanged over two decades since its first appearance, though Peretti — who’s now 80 and has spent the last 40 years living between New York, Italy and Catalonia — has created new mesh pieces with diamonds as well as tumbled emeralds. “Elsa defies what you think of when you think about jewellery — it’s art, it’s sculpture, it’s something you can wear,” says Reed Krakoff, Tiffany & Co.’s chief artistic officer. “Her work is as fresh today as when she first designed it. Her pieces transcend time.”

Prop stylist: Marci Leiseth.

Hermès Take Prehistoric Inspiration For Their Extraordinary Pocket Watch

The famous French house has created a truly unique timepiece in the form of the new Hermès offering.

Article by Luke Benedictus

The lowdown

Haute horology can be a slightly po-faced business at times. But Hermès continues to add teeth to its watch collection, not to mention a sense of quirky fun, through its collaborations with Alice Shirley. The British artist has worked with the French company since 2014 with her zoological designs featuring everything from zebras to tigers adorning the brand’s colourful scarves. Increasingly, however, these animals are escaping their silk confines and appearing on Hermes’ watches, too. First, a gruff bear was transferred onto an enamel dial for the Slim of Hermès Grrrrr! This wrist-bound bestiary was later bolstered with the howling visage of a wolf on the Arceau Awooooo! Now, raising the ferocity stakes even further, comes the Arceau Pocket Aaaaaargh! that delivers an alarming close-up of a Tyrannosaurus Rex on the case of a pocket watch.

The hardware

Sure, there’s a certain light-heartedness to this concept, but Hermès clearly take their jokes seriously. The T-Rex design showcases the brand’s leather craftsmanship with the dinosaur’s head made from thousands of hand-cut leather fragments that are conjoined to form a multicoloured mosaic with an authentically scaly texture. The domed eye of the beast meanwhile is made from cabochon-cut Grand Feu enamel. Its beady gaze peers through on both sides of the watch case to literally give it eyes in the back of its head and ensure it’s never confused for a Do-you-think-he-saurus.

Behind this madcap design, the pocket watch itself offers a contrasting masterclass of refined classicism. The white-gold case is based around the Arceau watch, created by Henri d’Origny in 1978, with its distinctive round shape and asymmetrical stirrup-inspired lugs. From a technical perspective, the watch is souped up some very serious complications in the form of a minute-repeater plus a tourbillon that peeps out through the white enamel dial.

The verdict

There’s a certain delicious irony in the decision to decorate a pocket-watch – one of the more anachronistic forms of timekeeping – with a creature that hails from the distant past. But the Arceau Pocket Aaaaaargh! is a true original. That rarity value as a one-of-a-kind piece is reflected by the price tag of $490,000 that’s perhaps more deserving of the exclamation mark than the watch’s actual name. Yet there’s no denying that Hermes’ leather artisanship combines with the mechanical mastery of the high-end watch complications to singular effect. This is watch in which every detail is executed with joyful precision, right down to the matte green alligator leather cord-strap, a nod perhaps to the T-Rex’s recent descendants.